By Fran Costigan
By Alisa Fleming, www.GoDairyFree.org – Who wouldn’t love to merge health and dessert? Fran Costigan’s extensive culinary experience combined with her desire to have her cake and eat it too, has resulted in too many ‘healthy’ dessert recipes to fit in just one cookbook. More Great Good Dairy-Free Desserts Naturally is a follow up to her first work, Great Good Desserts Naturally! Though I haven’t viewed her first book, I can say that it would be hard to top this second edition.
As someone who absolutely loves to bake I was delighted by the extensive variety of Crisps, Cobblers, Brown Betties, Tarts, Pies, Cakes, Frostings, Cookies, Brownies, Muffins, Quick Breads… really I could go on. I counted approximately 100 recipes, each one dairy free, egg free, and I believe vegan (there is even a honey-free baklava).
Though I am a regular bread and cookie baker, I was particularly intrigued by a few of the not-so common offerings in this book. Several are surprisingly soy-free (and nut-free for that matter), such as the Banana Cream Pudding, the Ultimate Chocolate Sauce and Icing, and the New York Eggless Cream. Of course, the Peanut Butter Mousse in Chocolate Candy Cups is next on my list for sampling (the full color photo really sold me on this one), and it is hard for me to pass up something as unique as Carob Cashew Frosting (also soy-free).
Beyond the recipes themselves, this cookbook is very well organized and structured. The fonts are large, the recipes are well defined, and variations are included throughout. Each chapter opens with a two-page discussion of tips and suggestions, such as "how to make a foolproof flaky pie crust."
Now, I should clarify my use of the word ‘healthy’ when describing this cookbook. Added sugars/sweeteners are used in most of these recipes. However, the author devotes several pages to explaining sweeteners and how to use them. Her recipes include only the most natural sweeteners such as maple syrup, evaporated cane juice, fruit, and molasses, for a more wholesome product. Wherever possible (when it doesn’t sacrifice the quality of the end product) whole grain flours are used. Fats, leaveners, thickeners, gels, and starches are all explained in detail, and the healthiest options are noted and used in all of her recipes.
It appears that Fran Costigan's intent is to create delicious desserts that are decadent, but also provide real nutritional value. From my perspective, she has certainly succeeded.
More Great Good Desserts is available from: